The Attack On Titan universe is more than its brutal battles and bleak outlook on humanity. With a broad and diverse cast of characters, their relationships make for some of the most compelling dynamics ever written in anime.
Whether platonic or otherwise, the way certain pairs interact with each other speaks to how complex and sophisticated the world of Paradis and beyond really is. Sometimes, their powerful or tenuous bonds are a direct result the surrounding circumstances. In other instances, attitudes were determined well before the fall of Shiganshina itself.
10 Annie & Armin
Annie and Armin showed interest in each other well before she got frozen. Over time, he gained her trust and later proved the only person capable of luring her into an isolated location where she was most exposed. Given Annie’s already distrusting nature, this was especially impressive.
When Armin consumed Bertholdt and became the Colossal Titan, it made their connection much more complex. Since Bertholdt had a crush on Annie, it passed down the descendant shifter as well. While interesting, it makes their interactions ambiguous since it’s not clear where Armin’s actual feelings come from.
9 Jean & Eren
Jean and Eren were rivals ever since their days in the Cadet Corps. One might expect that when the latter discovered his shifting powers, it would be the end of their standoff since Jean had no realistic way of measuring up.
However, Jean exploited Eren’s titan condition by saying it was the only reason he performed even remotely well on the battlefield. This clever twist kept their rivalry alive and well up until the reclamation of Shiganshina. Unfortunately, their relationship took a bitter turn when Jean helped to marshal the Allied Coalition against the Rumbling.
8 Gabi & Falco
Gabi and Falco were two energized candidates seeking to become Warriors. The former was much more radical than the latter, openly embracing anti-Eldian sentiments including a robust sense of personal hatred. She proved violent and unreasonable for most of the anime, oftentimes requiring Falco to restrain her.
Despite their clashing personalities, Gabi seldom actually criticizes Falco for being too soft on the Eldians or restrictive of her actions. This came in handy toward the conclusion of the series, where Gabi realized the error of her ways and attempted to atone for them.
7 Mikasa & Eren
Eren and Mikasa had arguably the anime’s most important relationship. Between the symbolic weight of the scarf and committing the Rumbling for her sake, Eren expressed his dedication to Mikasa in almost every way but verbal. He even hoped that she would not forget him in her heart, instead hanging onto his memory for “ten years at least.”
However, Eren understood the controversy of what he was about to do and pushed Mikasa away so that she would not be accountable for his actions. This was seen when claiming she only followed him due to Ackerman loyalty for the Founding Titan. Unfortunately, Mikasa clearly wasn’t able to overlook this emotional abuse given that she kissed Eren’s decapitated head after putting an end to the Rumbling. Their relationship may have ultimately failed, but the plot wouldn’t have worked without her undying loyalty.
6 Sasha & Niccolo
Sasha and Niccolo’s relationship may not have been the most pivotal to the plot, but it was extremely well-written. Given that he was a chef and she loved food, they had something clear to bond over since their meeting.
Moreover, Sasha and Niccolo illustrated that the Eldians may be able to overcome their differences with the outside world based on the things they have in common regardless of wildly unique life experiences. Niccolo loved her so much that he was even willing to kill a child for revenge.
5 Eren & Floch
What defined Eren and Floch’s relationship was that it had been believably dynamic. At first, Floch disliked Eren because he felt choosing Armin over Erwin was not in the best interest of the Eldian people.
However, when Eren began striking out against Liberio and taking a highly nationalistic attitude toward Paradis’ future, Floch became his biggest supporter. They put an incredible amount of trust in one another. Eren was willing to share his plan, and Floch gladly gave his life to see it through.
4 Levi & Kenny Ackerman
Despite being enemies, Levi and Kenny Ackerman had a remarkably sophisticated relationship that nuanced Paradis’ criminal underworld. The latter raised the former in the underbellies of Paradis, which explained his remarkable ODM and fighting abilities.
While Kenny did not hesitate to attack Levi, it’s clear that he still cared about him to at least a minor degree. For example, he did not stay behind to fight the Scouts after realizing Rod Reiss’ true plans. Further, Kenny refused to drink the stolen titan serum that could have saved his life thanks to Levi’s convincing.
3 Levi & Erwin
Erwin’s relationship with Levi continued where Kenny’s left off. Recruiting him from the underbelly and offering him a life of meaning, the two quickly became inseparable friends. Levi even broke his typically results-oriented mindset when ordering Erwin to stay away from the battle for Shiganshina and threatening him when he inevitably didn’t listen.
After the skirmish, Levi vouched for Erwin’s survival, which proved especially bold when facing down an equally skilled Scout and titan shifter. The only reason he relented was on account of Erwin himself. Still, it changed his relationship with Eren forever.
2 Historia & Ymir
Ymir and Historia had the best romantic arc of the entire series. Not only were their personalities compatible and interesting, it also had narrative significance. Based on Ymir’s own trauma, she encouraged Historia to come out of her shell and to claim the destiny she was born for. Similarly, Historia corrected Ymir when she was being too antisocial, which helped her connect better with the other Scouts.
The only thing that cheapened their relationship was through the way it ended. Despite being given a visual demonstration of Paradis’ military capacity, Ymir surrendered herself to the Marleyan Warriors in exchange for Historia’s safety. Given the Rumbling, her sacrifice proved entirely meaningless.
1 Reiner & Bertholdt
Reiner and Bertholdt came from similar circumstances and oppression, making them natural brothers-in-arms. Inseparable during their time with the Scouts, they repeatedly took great risks on each other’s behalves.
For example, Reiner fought Zeke in an attempt to make Annie’s salvation a priority. During the battle for Shiganshina, Bertholdt’s arrival also helped to mitigate the pressure placed on Reiner and turned the battle back in their favor. In the end, Bertholdt’s death haunted Reiner and pushed him into a steep and inconsolable depression.
NEXT: 10 Anime Heroes With Terrible Judgment